[Great Barrington, Massachusetts]: [1858-1904]. Turn of the century manuscript diary, begun by Mary Heald at the birth of her daughter Mary in 1858, and continued in 1900 by the younger Mary Lane during the childhood of her own daughter Madeline. Comprised of 61 handwritten pages tracing the lives of three women in one family. Quarter cloth over marbled boards, with shelf-wear and rubbing to corners and edges of boards. Front hinge cracked but holding, causing looseness of the front signature; text block else is tight. Internally clean. Includes a tipped in note to Madeline from her father Dr. Orville Lane regarding her allowance, a tipped in poem by the young Madeline to her teacher Mrs. Price, and two letters from Madeline to her mother.
"Our little girl was born in Chelsea, Mass...on Friday, Sept. 10, 1858, five minutes of eleven P.M....We called this little girl of ours by her great-grandmother's + her mother's name -- Mary Heald." So begins the diary of a mother to her daughter that would continue for the first year of the younger Mary's life. Mary Heald's near-daily entries provide rich detail about her experience as a mother, grieving the loss of her late infant son and celebrating the life of her newborn baby girl. Mary's writing shifts between the frank (for example, during the birth "mother was under the influence of Chloroform for two hours") and the tender ("mother must write how you have progressed in learning to do things...you spatted your little hands together and first learned to 'pat-a-cake'!"). Throughout, the elder Mary provides information on the responsibilities of childcare and how they are shared among her own mother, herself, a nurse, and her husband; and she documents the illnesses, growth, and little adventures happening in her expanded family.
By 1900, daughter Mary Heald Lane had married a local doctor Orville Lane, and the diary transitions as she documents the youth of her own daughter Madeline Hooker Lane. The transition is marked by a pasted-in note from Dr. Lane's prescription pad, noting "Dear ten-year-old Madeline, Beginning today your allowance will be increased to 20 cents a week all conditions remaining the same. Your Pa." On the facing page, Mary begins her own entries: "Madeline Hooker Lane is ten years old today...ready for the sixth grade in school, which she will enter in the fall, her first experience in Public Schools will begin then...Miss Price's school closed." Whereas her mother Mary Heald focused on the details of raising a baby after having previously lost an infant boy in his first year, daughter Mary Lane emphasizes Madeline's growth into womanhood; entries focus on Madeline's education, socialization, and travel. Though she enjoys writing, for example, Madeline is less musically inclined; and her mother writes that "Madeline commenced music with Miss Mary Pursell...she practices very well although she dislikes to." As Madeline enters her teen years, it becomes clear she is of a very different generation than her mother -- preferring to be called by her more masculine middle name, leaving town to travel with school friends while her mother remains at home with Mary the elder, taking care of domestic matters and engaging locally through women's groups and citizens' picnics.
In all, a fascinating and valuable document, with rich detail about three different generations of American women. With research possibilities including but not limited to turn of the century obstetrics and infant mortality, disease control and treatment, comparative approaches to Victorian and Edwardian motherhood, the history of women's education in the U.S., and gender studies. Very Good (Item #2226)